It’s now over six months since Rwanda closed its borders with Uganda, leaving traders from both countries counting losses.
Both countries have also lost billions of Shillings in tax revenue.
It should be noted that in a letter dated February 28, 2019, Rosine Uwamariya, the Commissioner for Customs Services at Rwanda Revenue Authority informed her Ugandan counterpart that due to construction works currently taking place at Gatuna Border post aimed at extending smooth flow of goods and services at the border post, Rwanda has considered reducing the traffic of heavy trucks from Uganda to allow completion of One Stop Border Post (OSBP) infrastructure.
“In view of the above, Rwanda Revenue Authority would like to inform you that with effect from 28th February, all heavy trucks carrying goods destined and those transiting via Gatuna shall be temporily diverted from using Gatuna Border Post to Kagitumba/Mirama Hills Border Posts,” Uwamariya’s letter to URA reads in part.
However, a few days later, the Rwandan government advised its nationals against crossing to Uganda on condition that they could not guarantee the safety of their nationals in the Ugandan territory.
Rwanda accused Uganda of hosting and facilitating dissidents especially Rwanda National Congress-RNC and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda- FDLR, which have declared war on the Kigali government. Uganda has denied the allegations.
The good news is that the border is set to be reopened following the signing of a pact by Uganda and Rwanda to improve their political and economic relations. The pact was signed by President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame on Wednesday in Angolan capital, Luanda.
But how much revenue have both countries lost during this period?
After Kenya and South Sudan, Rwanda is Uganda’s 3rd export destination in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region.
According to BoU figures, Uganda exported goods worth US$212.14m (Shs785.9bn) to Rwanda in 2018, up from US$180.8m (Shs669.8bn) in 2017.
In 2016, Uganda exported goods worth US$237.61m (Shs880.4bn) to Rwanda, up from US$193.98m (Shs718.7bn) in 2015.
In 2014, Uganda earned a whopping US$245.37m (Shs909bn) from exports to Rwanda.
This means that in the last five years, Uganda has earned Shs3.96 trillion from her exports to Rwanda.
On the other hand, BoU figures indicate that Rwanda earned US$17.94m (Shs66.4bn) from her exports to Uganda in 2018, up from US$13.10m (Shs48.5bn) in 2017.
In 2016, Uganda imported goods worth US$13.04m (Shs48.2bn) from Rwanda, up from US$11.06m (Shs40.9bn) recorded in 2015.
In 2014, Rwanda exported goods worth US$11.84m (Shs43.8bn) to Uganda.
This implies that while Uganda has earned Shs3.96 trillion from her exports to Rwanda in the last five years, the neighbouring country (Rwanda) has only managed to earn Shs247.8bn from her exports to Uganda.
To put it simply, the money Uganda earns in exports to Rwanda in a year is four times higher than what Rwanda has earned in exports to Uganda in the last five years.
The items Uganda exports to Rwanda are mainly food stuffs and household items.
Latest figures from BoU indicate that Uganda’s earnings from exports to Rwanda have fallen sharply over the last six months. Likewise, Rwanda’s earnings from exports to Uganda have fallen significantly.
In February 2019, Uganda exported goods worth US$14.51m (Shs53.4bn) to Rwanda. However, following the border closure, Uganda’s exports to Rwanda fell to US$2.64m (Shs9.7bn) in March 2019 before reducing further to US$1.16m (Shs4.27bn) in April 2019.
In May, Uganda’s exports to the neighbouring country to a record low US$0.80m (Shs2.9bn) before increasing slightly to US$1.26m (Shs4.64bn) in June 2019.
Similarly, Rwanda’s export earnings to Uganda have remained low. In February 2019, Rwanda’s export earnings to Uganda stood US$0.80m (Shs2.9m).
In March, Rwanda’s export earnings to Uganda increased slightly to US$1.74m (Shs6.4bn) before rising to US$2.87m (Shs10.57bn) in April.
In May and June, Rwanda’s export earnings to Uganda reduced to US$2.1m (Shs7.7bn) and US$1.09m (Shs4bn) respectively.